What's been helpful to the tango community during COVID?

Originally published at: What’s been helpful to the tango community during COVID? – Awaken Tango

We asked members of the world tango community what they have found helpful to increase wellbeing, as of May-June 2020 according to the Tango World COVID survey. Not surprisingly, many favored activities that bring together many of the essential elements of tango: walking, having 1:1 conversations with a friend from tango, and immersing in music!

Meditation

Many had found doing meditation or mindfulness practices helpful. 

Taking spiritual practices more seriously as a daily discipline

– Meditation – Stretching and spending time outside – Spiritual practices and study – Focus on work and family – Reimagining life and culture – Watching videos

Focus on meditation and developing my vulnerability and trust-based communication skills

Practicing mindfulness and offering a mindfulness session in a format of a support group to my tango friends twice a week

Walking

For many, taking long walks or hikes outdoors, alone or with friends, helped them find wellbeing. 

Walking in the park with headphones

I walk 3-5 miles per day, and do yoga

Walks outside while listening to music

Walking in the forest

Conversations

Having conversations helped people feel connected. Some experienced this time as creating an opportunity to deepen friendships or turn “tango friends” into real friends, “getting to know fellow tango enthusiasts as people rather than co-dancers.” They reported having long conversations expressing care and concern for one another. People reported a large variety in the types of conversations that were helping them, but one-on-one and small groups were mentioned the most often.

  • One-on-one

    • Phone conversations (yes, telephone)

    • Emailing

    • Two-person Zoom meetings, Facetime, or other videochat

    • Co-watching tango videos together 

    • Checking in with people via text message

Calling/facetiming/socially-distanced meeting tango friends informally just to talk

What helped me stay connected the most, is talking to tango friends over the phone

periodic electronic contact (emails, phone calls) with my tango buddies

  • Small groups

    • Peer group meetings, support groups 

    • Group message threads

    • Socializing in small groups on Zoom, such as Zoom birthday parties, “family dinners” on Zoom, post virtual-milonga afterparties, other virtual hangouts, “snackticas” 🙂 

I have family dinner with my dance school every week. We eat dinner together online and talk for hours.

Connecting with tango friends virtually, for zoom birthday parties, or one-on-one for extended social conversation

Working and team [conference] call by Skype and virtual cocktails with work colleague[s]

online happy hours with fellow dancers

Having the chance to have long conversations over phone/Zoom with friends I care about from other communities and really reflect and go deep.

One participant shared: “I greatly miss being able to dance and connect with other individuals physically and musically but I have taken the opportunity to become closer with these people emotionally and socially, as well as dive into the intellectual learning of the music. While I prefer being able to dance, it’s hard to say that I would take away the opportunities that I’ve been presented. I think I’ve reflected on the idea that it would be nice to have a balance of both in the future.” 

Tango music

For a few, listening to tango music was too painful. But for many, listening to music helped them stay connected with the spirit of tango. Many dancers were learning more music and orchestras through online offerings. Musicians were practicing diligently, and some were picking up new instruments. Also, some were enjoying making or practicing music generally, not specifically tango. Seems like a great time to start learning to play bandoneon! 

I took some Bandoneón lessons and had a lot of fun with this

My husband and I dance and listen to tango music every single day

[What helps is] that I was already on the track of expanding my musicianship

Playing music on my two musical instruments, one I know well, the other I just learned

practicing a musical instrument that I had neglected when I was preoccupied with tango

Playing tango (guitar and concertina) in a socially distanced form in the park.


New activities, especially in nature, especially movement

Several mentioned that activities such as gardening, and being outside in general, were bringing a feeling a connection and wellbeing. 

Gardening cooking growing food talking with family and friends

Mindfulness techniques, time in nature, stillness

Being in nature, listening to the music I love

The outdoors: hiking, working outside and a very small circle of friends

Yoga, meditation, running, nature, practicing Tango walk to music


Reflecting on tango

Many said they were using the time to reflect on their relationship with tango, and what they wanted to bring to it.

Reflection and understanding of what is more valuable in the tango experience- beyond embrace

Thankfulness for the privilege to have had countless wonderful tango moments and memories

the space to re-examine my relationship to Tango and the Tango community as a whole

Time to digest and reevaluate my tango goals. Time to practice


Solo technique and dancing alone

There were several who were practicing solo technique regularly, in some cases even daily, which helped them feel they were maintaining their skills, possibly improving, supporting teachers, and staying connected with tango.

Myself wearing my shoes every day and practicing a few steps…

Solo exercises and training. How to be a stronger dance on my own – so that when we can return, I am still able to dance – and that I remember how to wear heels

Finding rituals and routines

The loss of tango appears to have disrupted many weekly or even daily rituals. Those who were experiencing greater wellbeing had been able to create rituals, routines, and structures involving movement, practice, and other people — despite the formlesseness of quarantine and COVID life. 

A routine that involves daily creation and practice. And cleaning my house

Creating as much structure/normalcy in my day as possible

Early morning bike ride. Early evening yoga.

Keeping a routine for practice every day

Having a structured schedule

Things you might try if you’re missing tango

Every individual and community is different, and the COVID reality continues to change everywhere. The survey indicates that the following may be helpful for you if you’re experiencing the negative wellbeing impacts of less access to tango:

  • Get outside and get your steps in. Use a Fitbit or other fitness tracker. Listen to tango music or talk with friends while you go.

  • Lean in to the music. Lots of people are going deeper into the spirit of tango through music. How could you take your musical exploration up a notch What instrument do you have at hand that appeals to you? (E.g., it doesn’t need to be a bando – guitar, sing/karaoke, harmonica are all good too…) — or, write nostalgic lyrics about Tango in the 2010s!

  • Add structure to your life. Create regular rituals – e.g., morning ritual, afternoon ritual, evening ritual, and things that happen regularly on certain days of the week. Find ways to weave solo dancing, music listening, and tango friendships into the outline of your day/week.

  • Initiate, and partake in, longer, deeper, more reflective 1:1 conversations with friends from tango whom you miss. Consider walking while talking to get your steps and outdoors hours.

  • Explore ways to meditate, including meditating together to build motivation and accountability. Try dyad meditations, finger labyrinth meditations, walking meditations, breathing meditations.

  • Build tango practice into your schedule in doable ways. Create a program for your week and work out daily or weekly ways to keep tango (music, practices, conversations with friends, learning, co-watching videos) in the mix.

  • Try a tango offering. Others have been getting a lot of enjoyment out of these. If you’re solo, try a technique class. If you’re sheltered in place with someone, try a couples’ class. Anyone can try a panel/lecture/discussion.